Engaged Departments

Welcome to the CSU Office of Community Service Learning website on Engaged Departments! We have prepared this site as a starting point for campus discussions on why and how to create an Engaged Department (ED).

This website contains a collection of presentations, discussion exercises, examples, and other materials from workshops on Engaged Departments that have been held on California State University campuses over the past few years. We have organized the site around a framework that provides one path through the materials, but this is by no means the only way to proceed. These materials are available for use and modification by anyone as long as proper acknowledgement is given as to their source.

We hope this site will grow over time to encompass more examples of workshops and other materials that are being used on our campuses. If you have an internal resource that you would like to share or an external link that you think would be valuable for us to include, please let us know by sending an email to:Erika Randall, Coordinator, STEM Squared.

Introduction To Engaged Department Concept

With this website, we hope to provide a framework for thinking about the Engaged Department (ED) concept and a motivation for developing your own materials for hosting campus discussions. To paraphrase, Dr. Rich Berrett, CSU Fresno, who has hosted numerous ED seminars, on campus-definitions, information and examples are all well and good, but you are not going to be able to create an Engaged Department unless the faculty of the department are ready to engage with one another. At the Fresno seminars, this is stated up front as one of the goals:

To develop a level of unit coherence that will allow [faculty] to successfully model civic engagement and progressive change on the department level.

This doesn’t mean that every faculty member in a Department must become part of the process, but it does require a critical mass. Equally important, and experience with ED Institutes bears this out, a successful Institute requires a facilitator with the skills and knowledge to draw participants into profound conversation with each other on what the outcome of this process will mean to the program as a whole.

What is an Engaged Department?

The presentation, Components of an Engaged Department (.pdf), explores Ernest Boyer’s definition of Engagement that then leads to a discussion of department resources directed toward community-identified needs.

Promoting an Engaged Department

On some campuses, departments have been encouraged to become Engaged Departments with competitive mini-grants. The Request for Proposals (RFP) from CSU Chico (.pdf) and CSU Fresno (.pdf) are two examples of campus efforts to promote EDs.

Facilitating an Engaged Department Institute

The links below provide a brief overview of an Engaged Department Institute (EDI) along with sample agendas that have been held over the past few years on CSU campuses. The Institutes can be brief (one day) to semester long depending on what outcomes are desired.

Service Learning for Civic Engagement

Faculty Roles and Rewards

One of the most difficult commitments to make in an Engaged Department is to re-examine policies regarding faculty engaged in community scholarship. The following questions are important for a department to consider:

  1. Does the department recognize the workload involved in teaching service-learning (SL) courses?
  2. Are course assignments rotated so that the SL courses are not taught by only a few individuals?
  3. Does the Department mention SL in their hiring announcements?
  4. Does the Department’s Retention, Tenure, Promotion (RTP) policy fully recognize and reward community scholarship?
  5. Do faculty know how to document their community work for their committees?
  • Boyer, Engaged Scholarship, and New Models for RTP (.pdf) (presented at Sonoma State in April 2005) is meant to be a conversation starter on RTP policies. It presents the “Boyer Model for Scholarship” along with examples from different campuses. Associated with the presentation are two discussion tools below.
    • The first exercise, Evaluating Community Based Activities of Faculty in the RTP process (.doc), involves discussing examples of faculty scholarship that falls in the gray area between traditional categories of teaching, research and service. The main question is – Would your department recognize this effort in RTP? We have found that the best conversations on this exercise occur when faculty from different departments are placed within the same small group.
    • The second exercise, Evaluating Community Scholarship in Your Department (.pdf), works best when it involves faculty from the same department. In this exercise, faculty are asked to discuss a real case from their own experience that falls on the borderline of scholarship in the traditional sense.
  • A companion piece to establishing a policy on recognizing faculty work is a set of guidelines on how faculty should document their work. The Service Learning and RTP Guide developed at CSU Long Beach has been found to be helpful.

Scholarship of Engagement

Faculty who are engaged in community scholarship need support on where to find research materials, where to publish, and which conferences might provide venues for presentations, etc. The presentation, Scholarship of Engagement (.pdf), provides a few links to resources that may be helpful to faculty.

When faculty engage in community scholarship, many things can differ from more traditional research. Research agendas, methods, even epistemological assumptions themselves may be challenged. One of the growing areas of research in this regard is Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR – often called Participatory Action Research) in which community partners participate with university researchers at every stage of the research process from determining the research questions to developing the means for data collection, analysis of the data, and ownership of the results. CBPR is action oriented, and in many cases, provides a good opportunity to involve service-learning students in a community defined research project. The presentation, Principles and Methods of Community Based Participatory Research (.pdf), was part of a short workshop conducted at CSU Long Beach on Participatory Action Research. It is accompanied by two discussion tools:

Community Partnerships

An additional characteristic of Engaged Departments is the voice they provide to community partners in determining their priorities, curriculum, research agendas, and service activities. The presentation, Strengthening the Community-University Partnerships (.pdf), by Andy Furco, Director Service Learning Research & Development Center at UC Berkeley, outlines the principles of forming a strong partnership.

One of the most frequent activities faculty engage in with community partners is grant writing to support community projects. The presentation, Grant Writing Made Easy (.pdf), comes from a workshop on grant writing conducted at CSU San Marcos in Spring 2005.


Study on CSU’s Engaged Department Institute
In the Summer of 2001, the CSU Office of Community Service Learning conducted a Engaged Department Institute based on the Campus Compact materials. A full study, The Engaged Department Institute and the California State University: Progress, Process and Challenges (.pdf), of the Institute and its outcomes was conducted by researchers at the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute.

Comments from Team Leaders (.pdf)
Team leaders who have participated in past Engaged Department Institutes were asked about outcomes and challenges that remain. Their comments have been complied to serve as a resource for others.

Articles/Books on Engaged Departments
Kevin Kecskes, Director, Community University Partnerships for Learning, Portland State University, is editing a new book on the Engaged Department, featuring a dozen national case studies to be published by Anker Publications, Inc. in 2006.

Kecskes, K. (2004, Summer). Engaging the Department: Community-based Approaches to Support Academic Unit Coherence (.pdf). The Department Chair, 15(1), 7-9. (Included with permission from Anker Publications.) Anker publishes many fine titles in service-learning and civic engagement. Visit their website to browse their selection.

Research on Civic Engagement of Students

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) is an excellent source of research on civic and political participation of young Americans. There are many documents to explore on this site. A recently posted (May 2005) working paper “The Impact of Participation in Service-Learning on High School Students’ Civic Engagement (.pdf)” by: Shelley Billig, Sue Root, and Dan Jesse RMC Research Corporation, Denver, CO, discusses the impact of service learning on high school students with encouraging results.

The site also contains (encouraging) data on the turnout by youth in the 2004 election, in the paper, “Census Data Shows Youth Voter Turnout Surged More Than Any Other Group (.pdf).”

The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA also conducts regular studies on service learning and its impacts. The recently released results of a follow-up survey, “April 2005: Volunteering and Community Involvement Declines After Students Leave College (.pdf),” show, as one might expect, volunteerism declines once the demands of post-college life take hold. The full HERI study, “How Service Learning Affects Students (.pdf),” of more than 20,000 students, updated in 2000, is also available.